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About half of the residents who appealed their property value assessments will see a reduction by the county

WILLMAR -- About half of the Kandiyohi County residents who appealed their property values this week got what they asked for -- a reduction in their assessed values.

Nine of the property owners, however, were denied their requests.

The Kandiyohi County Board of Appeal and Equalization, which is made up of the county commissioners, took testimony from 17 property owners Monday night about why they believed their property was valued too high by the county assessor.

On Tuesday afternoon the commissioners heard explanations from the assessor's office about why the assessors believed the values were accurate.

The commissioners agreed with property owners to lower values in eight cases. Those votes were usually made on split votes.

The decisions to deny the requests for lower values were usually made on unanimous votes.

Many of the appeals came from individuals who lived on lakes in the northern part of the county.

For the first time this year, property on some small lakes and bodies of water that are more like ponds than lakes, were put into the higher-valued lakeshore category. That meant a big jump in land values for some.

That's what happened to Grant Gaasterland who has undeveloped land on an area of Woodcock Lake that has poor water quality and not much future for development.

The commissioners agreed to lower his property values.

They also agreed that with Diana Eagon that the value of her property on Lake Andrew was overvalued because of the close proximity of the road to the home on the small 50-foot lot, and because she has to pump sewage from a holding tank.

Several properties on Lake Florida and Norway Lake were also reduced in value.

Not all lakeshore properties got a break, however.

The commissioners agreed that the value of a million-dollar-home on Green Lake should not be decreased.

They also considered, but took no action, on a letter requesting that the values on all properties on Norway Lake be reduced.

Wayne Thompson, the former county administrator who lives on Norway Lake, stated in a letter that the $1,600 per foot of lakeshore was too high, especially considering the increasing weed growth and decreasing water quality. He said a base rate of $1,200 a foot would be more appropriate.

Thompson cited a 2003 Bemidji State University report regarding the relationship of property values and water quality that said, "millions of dollars in lakeshore property values on Minnesota lakes could be lost or gained upon a one-meter change in water clarity."

Thompson said Norway Lake is known as the "poor man's lake" because of it's poor water quality.

"I trust that Norway Lake's base will be reduced for all property owners," wrote Thompson, who invited the commissioners to use his dock in mid-June to observe the water quality.

Since Thompson was asking for a reduction on all the properties on Norway Lake, and not a particular parcel, the commissioners did not take action on his request.

Because the current property values are based, in part, on sale prices of comparable properties from 18 months ago, the impact of the lagging real estate market won't show up in lower valuations until next year.

But County Administrator Larry Kleindl said there may not be a huge decrease.

"When you live in lake country, it doesn't go down as fast as you think it'll go down," he said.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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